“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” -Benjamin Franklin
One common, frustrating theme I have found when talking to people who have mediocre lives is that they’re all excuse-generating machines.
Every time I try to give reasons that their obstacles are solvable and tactics to do so, they come up with a mediocre excuse so that they can remain where they are. I recently had an especially frustrating case of this recently with an Indian man I met who had trouble making friends.
After hearing about my own struggles with this, he came up to me and told me he had similar problems but he was over a decade older than me.
He also had insecurities with his race because most of the people he met were white and he thought he couldn’t relate to them.
But as I dove into the issue, my eagerness to help quickly turned into frustration as I discovered he was immovable as a rock with his beliefs about the world…
He told me how he couldn’t make friends with the friendly people he knew at his apartment because they all had wives and he was the only one without a wife. I told him while I could see that setting you apart a bit, that doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with them or still make friends. I have gotten to know a few friendly people who have spouses and kids at my CrossFit gym and at work.
He didn’t believe me. You could tell by his facial expression.
He said he couldn’t make friends with people at work because work is to work and not to socialize. You work and you go home. You don’t socialize with others. He kept repeating this belief over and over to me like a broken record even when I didn’t spur him to say anything.
I acknowledged the fact that you don’t want to waste time at work when you could be making more money for the business, but the very core of every part of human achievement revolves around interacting (and coordinating) with other humans (whether it’s creating great businesses, architecture, or movies).
I pointed out that you can still engage and invest in coworkers during your lunch break or after work if it’s important to you. I also noted that not all coworkers are cold people and not all workplaces are anti-social. I’ve worked at a couple different places where my coworkers were warm, friendly people who were willing to chat with people.
He kept repeating his belief that work is about working and immediately going home afterwards. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that maybe this wasn’t a logical debate we were having; instead, it was about his own inner psychology of fear and insecurity of talking to others and getting excluded that was holding him back and which he was covering up with mediocre excuses.
But maybe not. Perhaps, I was just projecting my own knowledge of psychology and experiences onto him.
He also complained about how he couldn’t relate to men and make friends because he didn’t follow sports. I enthusiastically chimed in about how I had just learned the solution to problem from the blog of Dr. Robert Glover, the best-selling author of No More Mr. Nice Guy.
I told him how I had similar problems and how Dr. Glover explained how many Nice Guys end up without masculine hobbies, like following sports because of a lack of male role models growing up. Dr. Glover explained that you shouldn’t see it as a reason to shy away from other men, but a chance to learn about a sport as a beginner. Men love teaching others about their hobbies.
I had tried this out myself recently by asking to learn more about American football to coworkers with some success.
Once again, he deflected. He changed the subject immediately back to his central frustration with making friends and his trouble doing so at work.
For some people, it’s just really hard to help. Some people can’t be helped. They have to be open to new beliefs and willing to change. They may even need a professional psychologist who understands the complexities of what’s going on.
I’m writing this to people unlike this man. I’m writing this to the winners who will win regardless of what obstacles are in front of them — those willing and able to make a change.
For people like this, how do you identify the final excuses and limiting beliefs that remain stuck to you like cobwebs in an attic? These are the excuses that you aren’t even aware you have — the ones that come out of your mouth like muscle memory and that go undetectable?
And how do you eliminate them once you identify them?
This podcast episode will explain how:
How to Root Out Limiting Beliefs
“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” ―John Wooden
When’s the last time you said you couldn’t do something because of ________?
That’s a possible, unnoticed excuse — not always, but sometimes.
Find all of these in the last week and write them down.
But how do you identify if they really are excuses?
I used to say I didn’t have many friends, wasn’t social, and wasn’t confident because of my strict, conservative mom who didn’t understand American culture.
Was partially true? Maybe. But to blame all of my inability on her parenting style is a bit much, right?
Try identifying an example to disprove the rule. The more the merrier. In this case, it was seeing Asian Americans who had the same situation but were very social and successful.
There are a ton who aren’t very social or confident. But there are a few who are. Then, the issue moves on from an excuse to “How can I be more like this guy?”
I used to blame my messy room on my family and economic situation.
“If I only had a bigger closet and less crappy clothing I’d never wear, I’d be so organized! If I didn’t have them messing around with my clothing all the time, it’d be great!”
Well, then came college. I had my own room with my own closet and dresser. It wasn’t big but it was my own. And honestly, it was enough to fit the amount of clothes I had.
Guess what? I was still quite disorganized.
Another way of seeing if this is true is testing these assumptions. Test the part where you say “if only I _____.” Actually try this out and see if it’s true.
If you can’t, that might be another psychological block. Some people will unconsciously throw in impossible-to-achieve situations to use as a crutch to never do something.
“If only I had a million dollar mansion, I would have enough space to organize things.”
My last story is about a Fridge.
I caught myself about to say, “If only I had my own larger fridge. Then, it wouldn’t be so cluttered with crap I would never cook. Then, I would be able to cook better. Then, I’d have more options.”
The truth is that oftentimes, excuses and limiting beliefs have small grains of truth to them. That’s why they’re believable.
In this case, my fridge was tiny. It did make things more difficult. It did limit ingredients I could use.
But deep down, I knew there was someone out there who was getting by and creating incredibly creative recipes with a smaller fridge. How? Because I had been watching a ton of cooking videos and saw similar levels of creativity. By the way, check out Brothers Green Eats on YouTube. They do a great job of this.
Here’s the point:
What’s holding you back that’s not true?
Find people who disprove this to inspire you. Get around them. Learn from them. Figure out how they did things different.
I am often in awe at how they belief and think of the world differently. Those different mindsets spur success.
Right now, I’m facing the cold, hard truth about fashion.
Yes, it’s true that I’d be more likely to be fashionable if I was richer. Yes, it would be arguably better if I had a larger closet. Yes, if I didn’t have all this clutter of clothes, I could be more organized.
But the truth is, I have met people who were in worse or similar situations who were fashionable AND organized.
- They made it their objective.
- They weren’t lazy about it.
- They sold or donated clothes they would never wear to make room.
- They took time to set a system to organize their clothes
- They were smart and did their research to find bargains in clothing.
- They did their homework to find timeless, fashionable clothing that wouldn’t get worn out or outdated in trend.
Here’s my challenge to you: Name 1 excuse you have. Take the steps outlined. Then, leave a comment on what you will do immediately to change things.
Demolish Excuses like Cereal for Breakfast
So many people assume that their problem is unique and therefore, no one can give advice to them on how to solve it.
Maybe the subtle things make it unique. But sometimes, it is a problem that other people before you have had and have solved.
Now, there’s a small chance you lie in the percentage of very unique, psychological issues.
But more likely, you have an issue that has been solved by others in the past and is not that unique.
For example, you may be struggling with obtaining a job in a new an emerging industry (tech, biotech, nanotechnology, social media) and have trouble finding work because you think you are too old or not experienced enough. You think that your situation is unique because of the new field.
You think that your situation is unique because of the new field. In reality, thousands before you have succeeded in overcoming those disadvantages (lack of education, experience, and age), plus even more difficult problems like homelessness.
You need to only look to books like What Color Is Your Parachute? or biographies of self-made billionaires and millionaires like John Paul De Joria and Chris Gardner (from the film, The Pursuit of Happyness) to realize this.
Yes, perhaps their situation is not exactly like yours. Maybe the nano-tech field wasn’t around during their time. But there are timeless principles that they used to get to where they want to get that you can use as well.
That brings us to the big lesson of this:
Your situation is not unique. Stop whining about your issue (lack of education, debt, poverty, career progression, promotion, marketing, getting to 7 or 8 figures, etc.) and actually learn from the best people in the field to learn how you can solve this.
Actually do something instead of sitting there blaming others.
Assume a solution exists.
Use the “Imaginary Perfect You” Exercise
Imagine that the best version of you 5 years in the future came to you and told you how you got to where you are. This version of you is the most resourceful, street-smart, hard-working, highest potential version of you there is.
What would this person tell you how you solved this problem?
If this perfect version of you existed, what would he tell you to do? Imagine it vividly to incorporate your visual and spatial brain. Imagine him in front of you.
Use the Role Model Exercise
Another similar exercise is to pick a role model that is exactly where you want to be in life or as close as possible. Someone who actually exists.
Imagine what this person would tell you to do if he was there. This incorporates you visualizing his attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors to bring together how he would act.
What Happens When You Do This:
Here’s what happens when you do this. You act and think on a much higher level than most people ever do.
Before you would think:
“I don’t have the experience or background.”
“My job is good enough and I’ll have to settle.”
“It’s all about connections. I’m screwed.”
Now, you think:
“I can get the experience. I know that if one method doesn’t work, people have told me to be patient, don’t get nervous, and I will eventually get something because there’s multiple pathways to an industry and career I want, not just one.”
“My current job is good. But successful people have told me that I can make it even better so that I can feel more fulfilled and better give my gifts to the world.”
“It’s true that connections and networking does matter. Instead of giving up, I will find the right people to talk to and form relationships. Some might reject me, but some will love to help me because of my positivity, hunger, and initiative.”
Excuses are a cornerstone reason why most people never achieve their goals or dream life. They’re comfortable to lean on. It’s easy to believe the lie than face the cold truth.
The fact that you’ve read this article is already a huge sign that you will be successful when others will not because others aren’t willing to face their excuses.
Realize that excuses are what keep you in a safe, mediocre world. But safe is the new risky. You are risking living a boring life filled with regrets.
To eat excuses for breakfast, you have to first convince your logical mind they aren’t true by identifying real people and situations to disprove them. But it doesn’t end there. You have to then convince your emotional mind.
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Leave a comment letting me know how you applied this knowledge today and how you relate.
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